Journal Excerpt

September 30, Wednesday; 7:10 p.m.; Camp II

A day of rebuilding our camp after the big storm. First, we totally took down and re-pitched all the sleeping tents, which took most of the morning. Then we re-pitched the cooking and eating tents, drying everything out in the bright sun. Quite a glorious day, although we all felt considerable lassitude of one kind or another.   Five sherpas went down to Camp I for loads of food and O2. No traffic in the icefall.

Tomorrow, Glenn and Frank with four sherpas will make a carry to III to see how that camp fared in the storm.   Hopefully, the tent platforms and box tent will come up to II tomorrow, and West, Hackett, Winslow, Schoene, and Graber plan to come up to I.

We got word over the radio that mail had arrived at Base and will be sent through tomorrow! Also, tomorrow, Kop and Davey will make a quick trip down to Base for a breather.

October 1, Thursday; 7:30 p.m.; Camp II

A frustrating day. Glenn and Frank got lost in the dark and wasted an hour or so to the ‘schrund. Likewise for the four sherpas following an hour or so later, so they all got caught by the sun far below the first rocks.   The sherpas, in fact, stashed their loads an hour below Camp III and all came down about mid-afternoon.

Most of the rest of the Camp II sherpas went down to I for loads, and Camp I sherpas went down into the icefall to pick up a stash that had been dumped there before the storm. Well, the icefall had acted up a bit overnight, and all but stymied traffic coming through. Hackett, West, Winslow, and Graber made it, but had to wallow through deep snow and it took them eight hours.

Apparently nothing else came up but their personal gear, plus some very welcome mail. I got a letter from Loie postmarked Aug. 25 telling of her Desolation Canyon trip, a new stove, Lynnie’s tiger salamander, and Barry’s first day of school-quite a treat to get some news from home. On the other hand, none of the single guys (Mike, Jeff, C Sah’b, and Rick) got anything, and they were most disappointed.

Talked with Mike and Jeff a bit this morning about some poor sherpa attitudes. Don’t think we have a serious problem-but it’ll sure be good to get Sonam back.

We’re hoping to be able to get the tent platforms and box tent brought up tomorrow so as to be able to get going the following day. The days are getting noticeably shorter and colder, and we’d all like to get on with it. (Note: The box tent is a special box-shaped tent designed by British climber Don Whillans to be used on the aluminum tent platforms where it’s not feasible to cut a ledge.)

Meanwhile, Davey and Kop went down to Base for a rest today, and C Sah’b heads down tomorrow. The big push for tomorrow is for Hackett and Graber plus 13 sherpas to go down from Camp I, clean up the icefall, and expedite the platforms and some food up to us. Also, Glenn and I are slated for Duane’s fiendish glucose-tolerance test in the morning! (Note: This test is really something. First, a blood sample is drawn from the hapless subject, who then swallows a milkshake-thick glucose potion, after which a series of further blood samples is taken over the next couple hours. This provides data as to how rapidly glucose is processed by the body. Finally, by repeating this test at various altitudes it is possible to ascertain the impact of a low-oxygen environment on glucose assimilation. Fun stuff!)


October 21, Wednesday; 9 p.m.; Camp II

Hooray! Just after 4 p.m. Sonam was talking with Camp III and came rushing in to the Weather Port (where we were having popcorn and tea) to announce “success!” Sundare and Kop had summited about noon, Sundare had just arrived back at III, with Kop just a few minutes behind!   We all ran outside, cheering and hugging each other-sherpas too of course-while Sonam talked with Sundare on the squawky radio. I got on the radio to talk with Sundare, but Kop came on instead-confirmed that they both were “A-OK” and would stay at III tonight and come down tomorrow.

Margin note: Kop sez temp at Camp V was -27° F!

It sounds like they left Camp V at 7 a.m., and summited at noon, which would be record time!   We passed our hearty congratulations to both, and again had rounds of cheers and hugs.

Told Rodney at Base the news on the 5 p.m. sched. We’ll talk again at 10:30 a.m. prior to the morning sched from Base to Kathmandu. Spirits soaring!!

Meanwhile, Mike and Jeff had come down at noon with tales of terrible conditions (sanitary and general care) at the upper camps and the failure of sherpas to make carries in a timely fashion. A pretty depressing description all in all. I think the Camp II sherpas probably overheard their report, as Sonam was uptight when he asked me what had happened above. As I was trying to fill him in, he called for the sherpas who’d been with Jeff and Mike, and these began explaining their version.   Just then Jeff came over, and fortunately did a good job of explaining the problems while at the same time pacifying the sherpas. He also suggested that maybe he and Sonam and I should sit down in the morning and discuss things. Sonam seemed agreeable, and we returned to the Weather Port and were playing cards and eating popcorn when the great news of the summit success came in.

Just after that, we had another desperate communications scene at 4:30 with Hackett and C Sah’b at IV. Their radio wouldn’t transmit but by a lengthy push-button/yes-no system, Karl finally ascertained that they needed a stove, so Sonam arranged for two sherpas to go up very early, taking a good radio and a stove or two from Camp III.

Mike and Jeff are still contemplating another try. I find myself hoping very much that they change their mind, but at the same time I’m anxious to support them to the hilt if they can get it together in the next day or so. Sonam naturally is most anxious to pull everything off the mountain, so we have a bit of a conflict here.

Meanwhile, I just turned out to be the big loser again at a 5-handed game of hearts – so again I owe another round of beer. Meanwhile also the wind seems to be picking up.

We plan to talk to Kop at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow and will probably go out en masse to meet him and Sundare as they come down! Happy Day!


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